Obsolescence and Inscription (2013)

Obsolescence and Inscription is an exhibition of artworks that have been produced by artists Robert Bean and Ilan Sandler. The artworks developed from a number of joint and individual projects to explore their shared interests in art, technology, language, and science. The question concerning obsolescence and inscription has guided their approach to images, objects, artifacts and embodiment. This project is an exploration of organic and inorganic memory through the borders and interface that circumscribe the human experience of technology.

Western art and culture is defined by patterns of obsolescence; not just the physical and material obsolescence that occur through increasing patterns of production and consumption, but also the obsolescence of culture, ideas and purpose. Inscription implies an archaeology of traces and networks of interactions that inscribe the knowledge and relationships that are created through human interaction with the physical world – documents, texts, imprints, data bases and other perceptible traces of transformation.  

Obsolescence often imposes an anxiety of loss that can conjure feelings of melancholy and nostalgia. It can stimulate rituals of collecting artifacts that acquire value through their scarcity or quality of production, a form of material nostalgia that endeavors to arrest the state of longing and restore a conventional sense of authenticity. Attention to the passé is critically innovative when it does not depend on paradigms of loss. Obsolescence and Inscription recovers this sense of loss through acts of creation and exploration into the microscopic world of ancient biological organisms that predate human existence to the macroscopic world of mechanized language and its influence on writing systems, coding and the emergence of computing.

The association between human evolution and technology is considered through a variety of digital and analogue processes. The installation animates a dialogue between artifacts, biotics and systems of inscription, suggesting a future in which the tools of production and the tools of the imagination have a pervasive and interrelated affect on experience and existence.

Robert Bean and Ilan Sandler, 2013

Robert Bean @2020